Exploring enterprise resilience through the theoretical lens of complexity: a case study situated in the high value-manufacturing sector

  • Khalil Dindarian

Student thesis: Phd


The modern business environment, characterised by unprecedented growth in the use of digital technologies, presents new challenges to the organisation, particularly in the context of the management of risk and uncertainty. Capturing the necessary intelligence to inform corporate decision-making lies at the heart of organisations capabilities to develop and deploy effective strategies. The literature encountered during the course of the research described in this thesis suggests that organisations are increasingly seeking to improve their resilience through a more sophisticated approach to the analysis of corporate intelligence. We accordingly refer to this as ‘the holistic approach’. This research study, situated in the high-value manufacturing sector, seeks to uncover how organisations may adopt a holistic approach to the execution of strategy, through a nuanced understanding of ‘complexity’ thinking. The thesis argues that a significant knowledge-to-practice gap exists in this space, despite a rich landscape of theoretical literature embracing complexity theory, strategy, risk, uncertainty, and enterprise risk management (ERM). This thesis argues for a greater emphasis on resilience within the organisation, this is generally understood to be the ability to self-organise in response to both negative and positive feedback generated by that organisation’s interaction with the micro and macro-economic environment. The corollary is that organisational resilience requires a framework for the enactment of an enterprise risk framework suitable for the purposes of achieving competitive advantage and business continuity, whilst protecting both stakeholder interests and shareholder values. The thesis describes a case-study approach, drawing on data gathered from a range of sources and through semi-structured and in-depth interviews with experts involved with the delivery of the Siemens Pennine Class 185 Desiro fleet for the UK train operating company Transpennine Express Ltd. The coalescence of this data forms the basis of a proposed new approach, the Enterprise Resilience Framework (ERF), as means by which the high-value manufacturing organisation may seek to improve organisational resilience maturity. The proposed benefits of this approach include improved governance and assurance of complex programmes. The quality of data that may be generated through the proposed approach could aid corporate boards in the process of determining strategy and risk appetite.
Date of Award31 Dec 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRichard Kirkham (Supervisor)


  • resilience
  • manufacturing
  • enterprise
  • strategy
  • uncertainty
  • complexity
  • risk

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